LEMOORE — Playing football this past season was a question mark for Will Schalde. After his junior campaign, the senior had no plans of putting on his pads again.
But then Joshua Kloster was hired to take over as head coach of the Lemoore football program and the rest was history.
“It’s one of the biggest rollercoasters that I’ve ever been on in my life,” Schalde, a two-year varsity player, said. “Due to a couple different things that happened during my junior season, at this time last year I was convinced I was going to play water polo. [Kloster] said, ‘Listen, it’s going to be different. Come out. I got you.’”
So Schalde went out and had what he called “one of the greatest seasons of my life.” He added that he’ll be forever grateful for Kloster’s efforts.
“I think it happens to every athlete at some point, you fight through adversities and you start second-guessing your love of a sport,” Kloster said. “He had some bad experiences and it was a little rough trial there for a while … and now he’s accomplished the ultimate goal.”
It’s what led Schalde to be standing in front of family and friends at the Event Center at Lemoore High School on Tuesday. Schalde signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his football career at California State University, Sacramento.
“Going to play college ball is something I’ve been dreaming about since I really started taking football seriously about fifth grade,” Schalde said. “My career’s had its ups and downs.”
It was only up for the 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound tight end during his senior season as he posted 46 catches for 807 yards and six touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. His athletic feats helped the Tigers win their first playoff game in four seasons and earned him All-West Yosemite League First Team.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach him this year,” Kloster said. “One of the least laziest kids I’ve ever coached in my career. Always doing the extra, always running very hard and just attention to detail, so to see him be able to further his academic and athletic career at the next level, it’s a great thing for the community and for his family and for him personally.”
On Dec. 18, 2019, Schalde tweeted that he was “Still waiting for a shot” and he attached his Hudl regular-season highlights. A couple of Division III coaches came calling, but his highlights tape shot up mid-January and more coaches came in contact with him.
“I felt like it was just rolling and then Sac State’s where it hit its peak and I’m really happy with the opportunity,” Schalde said.
Weber State University looked into Schalde and he took an unofficial visit to UC Davis, but he said Sacramento State was the first D-I school to take him seriously.
Schalde took a visit to Sacramento State on Feb. 7 where he met with head coach Troy Taylor, tight end coach Jeremy LaPan and others. He said the school seemed like a great environment for him and they also had his major, Biomedical Science, with coursework he’d enjoy.
Family was also another big factor when it came to deciding.
“I come from a really close, tightknit family … and having them be able to come up and watch a couple of my games a year really means a lot to me,” Schalde said.
So with his family, Kloster, who also went on the visit, and Schalde all in love with Sacramento State, he called Taylor that Saturday and decided to commit.
Schalde said his first two years of high school he was convinced he was going to play basketball in college. His junior year rolled around and he was unsure of what he wanted to do, but he said he was glad he stuck through it and fulfilled his goal of signing to a school to continue his sports career.
“I saw guys like Allen Perryman growing up, I heard stories about David Ausberry when I was little from my dad,” Schalde said. “Growing up, signing’s always been a really big goal for me, I’m glad it came to fruition here.”
As he prepares to make the jump to the Division I level, Schalde said he’ll remember moments like winning the playoff game against West or making seven catches for a career-high 155 yards and three touchdowns against Golden West, including the game-winning 80-yard touchdown.
“This season was just super chock-full of memories and it was the greatest experience of my life,” Schalde said.
Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.
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